Julia Jacklin’s acoustic guitar and vocals-led second record ‘Crushing’ might take a raw, no-frills approach, but it captures the feeling of standing tall up and expanding again. Whether it’s a shout of “give us a smile, darlin’” on the street, or a fellow commuter shoving your knee aside on the tube, women are expected , by certain people, to take up as little space, and cause as little disruption, as possible. ‘Crushing’ rejects all of that.
It’s the sonic equivalent of cracking a smirk and jabbing your knee back towards the offending man-spreader. “I don’t wanna be touched all the time,” sings the Sydney-based musician on the opening track. “I raised my body up to be mine.”
That said, ‘Crushing’ isn’t a fuming tirade. Instead, it’s a gentle turning-over of ideas, creeping up atop lushly woven melodies before going full Marie Kondo on anybody who can’t respect boundaries. As well as holding up various encounters – the forced fun of ‘Pressure To Party’, a stranger’s not-quite accidental brush past at the bar – and asking if they spark joy, ‘Crushing’ also lives up to its name in the way it approaches draining relationships.
“Don’t know how to keep loving you / Now that I know you so well,” Jacklin sings on the album’s stand-out brutally efficient falling-out-of-love banger; a swooning, cyclical guitar solo sounding out her dilemma. And ‘You Were Right’ hits with sardonic accuracy: “You make me feel so small”, she protests. Adopting someone else’s music tastes, favourite restaurants and reading their most beloved books, Jacklin concludes, just isn’t worth it.
While the talented singer’s debut album ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ was a sort of musical bildungsroman – the sometimes unsure steps of a new artist finding her path – the more assured follow-up is ‘Crushing’ by name and brilliantly crushing by nature.